Library filed under Energy Policy from Michigan
The windswept Great Lakes could play host to an industry some believe could help revive Michigan's comatose economy and fulfill state and national mandates for cleaner, renewable energy. ...Nothing's imminent, but state and federal environmental regulators are preparing for the possibility that utility developers may want to harness wind power from Lake Michigan and the other big lakes.
For some reason she clings to her dream of Michigan leading a huge, well paying, windmill and solar panel industry. After decades of development the entire US wind generation industry employs less then 6500 people. Solar employs less than 2000. Over 750,000 jobs have disappeared from Michigan since Jennifer became Governor. If the entire renewable energy industry doubled in size and located everything in Michigan we're talking about a drop in the bucket when it comes to job creation.
In her State of the State speech, Gov. Jennifer Granholm outlined a restructuring of Michigan's energy infrastructure that aims to meet this industrial state's future energy needs with wind power. The plan is radical but hardly new. The governor's policy closely parallels the failed experiment of Denmark -- a similar peninsular water state that has invested billions of dollars in wind generation during the last 25 years. ...it is crucial that the state understand the lessons of Denmark and the very real limitations of wind power.
Imagine sections of the Great Lakes dotted with rows of gleaming, 12-story turbines, blades whirring in the stiff breeze as they generate electricity for homes and businesses onshore. It's only an idea - for now. But government regulators are bracing for an expected wave of proposals for offshore power generation in a region that never seems to run short of wind. Despite its allure as a plentiful source of clean energy, they say, offshore wind power could affect the aquatic environment and commerce.
"I'm pleased that the governor was finally able to sign it [renewable portfolio standard] ... it's a critical beginning for our state," Mahawili said ...But the chemical engineer did some quick mathematical calculations. This Great Lakes wind dream is not going to be easy to achieve and it certainly won't be cheap. Under current electricity pricing in the state and the current rules of the Michigan Public Service Commission, a kilowatt produced by wind turbines on Lake Michigan costs about four and a half times more than energy from a modern coal-fired plant, the researcher and inventor said.
Local officials are anything but happy with legislation they believe will pre-empt local government control of wind development systems. The legislation is Senate Bill 213 — which is the renewable energy package that’s been one of the most talked-about issues/pieces of legislation needing to be passed in Lansing. ...there never was an intent to pre-empt local governments, said Rep. Jeff Mayes (D-Bay City), who serves as vice chair of the House Committee on Energy and Technology, and also is the House’s leading negotiator for renewable portfolio standard and energy efficiency.
Lawmakers may be close to finishing up a state energy plan, but that's not stopping critics from going after details of a requirement in the bills to use more renewable energy. Although making Michigan less reliant on traditional sources of electricity is seen as a laudable goal, the timeline and price tag of the new renewable requirements are causing disagreements. Critics say the bipartisan plan being negotiated is "unforgivably expensive." They say they wonder why customers would be charged more up front before seeing extra green power. ..."Too little information on the cost of these bills is being made available to lawmakers," he said.
Saying it's only fair, Michigan lawmakers plan to raise residential electricity bills and drop business rates so all customers are charged the true cost of their power. But when it comes to figuring out who should pay what for new renewable energy requirements, the playing field wouldn't be even. Though residents account for one-third of Detroit Edison's electric sales, they would contribute nearly two-thirds of what Michigan's largest utility could collect from customers for wind and other sources of alternative power under bills that have passed the House and Senate.
"We are on the cusp of a global boom that will make the Internet explosion seem like a mild speed bump." This comment is guest columnist Peter Sinclair's. And no he is not referring to China, which is building one energy plant per week while eating our lunch. Sinclair is talking about how Michigan's energy needs and economy will be saved ... by the windmill. However, no energy policy, if implemented, is more expensive, unreliable and (ironically) environmentally unfriendly.
Whenever the Senate energy committee in Lansing meets, the place is packed. Utilities, customers supporting "green" and renewable energy legislation, entrepreneurs promoting alternative energy, and people of every stripe in between jam the meeting room. Everyone is keenly interested in finding out what the Senate plans to do, but if anyone knows anything, they're not saying a word.
As the nation continues to look toward cleaner and more renewable energy sources to fuel electricity, wind energy is becoming a more viable option, and recent data suggests that Northern Michigan’s hilly terrain and proximity to the Great Lakes make it an ideal area to harvest this inextinguishable source of power. ...“The common lifestyle people only think about their energy source when they pay their bill once a month, and if their power ever goes out,” he said. “More expensive energy will get people to conserve more, and use power more wisely. We can still live a good life this way.” Yet, wind energy is not without its detractors — some residents complain of the low hum produced by the blades.
"Offshore (wind turbine sites) can be a can of worms," said Dickens, who is part of the Michigan wind outreach team from the Michigan Energy Office. "We don't have to go there yet. There are a lot of inland areas that we can use for wind development." Dickens might not want to "go there," but there are plenty of people considering the huge potential for wind turbine development on Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes. ...From an environmental standpoint, a lot more study is needed, according to Alan Steinman, director of the GVSU Annis Water Resources Institute in Muskegon. He suggests looking at the affects of such off-shore wind farms on birds and fish.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm last week toured the 32-turbine Harvest Wind Farm between Pigeon and Elkton in Huron County's Oliver Township. She says the sheer size alone of a turbine is an economic opportunity for Michigan. ...But one crucial ingredient is missing - a law requiring that a certain amount of the state's electricity come from renewable sources such as wind. Twenty-five states have what's known as a renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, and a few others have voluntary goals. ...Senate Energy and Technology Chairman Bruce Patterson could be key in determining the fate of renewable requirements. He says he won't stand in the way of the 10 percent requirement passed by House because there are safeguards to eliminate the mandate if green power costs too ...He also expresses concern about a Standard & Poor's report on power produced by wind. It's still an "infinitesimal" fraction of all electricity, according to the report, which last month raised concerns about the feasibility and cost ramifications of forcing U.S. utilities to comply with renewable mandates. Costs eventually show up on the monthly bills of residents and businesses.
Proposals for five new coal-fired power plants have state environmental lobbyists on fire. In sites near Midland, Rogers City, Manistee, Alma, and Marquette, companies have applied to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for air quality permits needed to start the construction of coal-fired power plants, as recommended by the Public Service Commission's 21st Century energy report released in early 2007. ...Should the state forgo the construction of those plants, however, it would have to depend on out-of-state electricity at a higher cost, said Doug Roberts, executive director of environmental energy policy at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. "We want energy here in Michigan," Roberts said. ...From a jobs standpoint, more people are employed at a power plant than at a wind turbine or other alternative energy plants, Roberts said. "Power plants would provide several hundred jobs to the community that people will work in every day," Roberts said.
But state officials do not have a clear picture on how readily the state's electricity transmission infrastructure could accommodate the added load - a proposed 2,500 megawatts in the Lower Peninsula and 520 in the UP - from new wind-generating sources. A 2006 report from MPSC found that barring "significant enhancements," existing electric generation and transmission capacity would be insufficient to meet reliability standards in the Lower Peninsula by 2009. The MPSC is working on a study with transmission-owning companies to determine the cost of updating Michigan's transmission system. "If we do this smart, and that's a big leap of faith right there, where we see the wind being developed is where they need to build transmission anyway," said Joseph Welch, president and CEO of Novi-based ITC Holdings Corp.
Attorney General Mike Cox on Tuesday blasted legislation he said would significantly raise electricity prices, re-monopolize Michigan's market and not do enough to cap the cost of wind and other green power. Cox, a Republican, commended Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm for pushing renewable energy measures. But he said the effort shouldn't be tied to bills that would limit competition from alternative power companies and change the way big utilities raise electric rates and pay for new plants. No bill can become law unless the full package is signed. Cox also said Granholm is exaggerating the job-creation potential of a renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, which would require that 10 percent of the state's electricity come from green resources by 2016. "We're loading it up with Christmas lights and trying to say it's something more than what it is," said Cox, arguing than an RPS should be touted only for its environmental benefits.
Michigan's drive to renewable energy is generating concern about higher electricity prices. The issue: How, and at what price, will utilities or other energy providers build or purchase renewable power to meet a proposed state mandate that 10 percent of power come from renewable sources by 2015? "They really have to start going to town in a short period of time. And doing that, whether they're building or buying, there will be an additional expense that comes with it. And that's going to come back to the ratepayers," said Chuck Hadden, vice president of government affairs for the Michigan Manufacturers Association.
If Michigan is to join 25 states requiring that more electricity come from renewable sources, the Legislature must sort out all kinds of issues -including the price tag. Compared with existing power from old, already-paid-for coal plants, renewable energy is more expensive. The House is considering capping residents' extra costs at no more than $3 a month, or $36 a year over 20 years, which could let power companies off the hook for meeting the renewable energy requirement, known as an RPS. Under legislation pending in the House, commercial customers would pay no more than $190 a year more, while the cap for industrial customers would be $2,250.
City officials say they are making strides in the quest to build one of the nation's first urban wind farms. This week, Wyandotte plans to submit results from a one-year avian study to the U.S. Department of Energy. The findings, coupled with results gathered from two meteorological towers, are encouraging for plans to construct five turbines near the Detroit River, said Melanie McCoy, the city's general manager of municipal services.
The provincial government of Ontario has lifted a ban enacted more than a year ago on offshore wind energy developments and will soon resume accepting applications for such proposals, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources announced. "This government is committed to developing clean, renewable sources of energy so Ontarians will have a sustainable supply of power now and in the future," Natural Resources Minister Donna Cansfield said in a statement Jan. 17. "Offshore applications we've received to date will be processed, and we are preparing to accept new applications for both onshore and offshore developments."